The second album for this experimental collective is the most surprisingly pleasant left-field pop gem of 2008.
“All My Friends” is the title of the first song on Verbs, and it seems that is exactly who multi-instrumentalist Luke Wyland asked to contribute to this, the second album for Au (the experimental collective he spearheads). Wyland asked, and they came. Verbs is brimming with almost 30 musicians from the fertile musical landscape of the Pacific Northwest (including members of Yellow Swans and Parenthetical Girls), and the result is the most surprisingly pleasant left-field pop gem of 2008.
The album begins with choir-like harmonies and rhythmic handclapping, kind of like a classically-trained Animal Collective. Then, halfway through “Are Animals”, the gang hits at all cylinders with kitchen sink percussion and Becky Dawson’s soaring falsetto. It’s at this steady clip that the band seems to hit an almost impossible stride, somehow managing to use all their accoutrements in exactly the right place.
“RR vs D” is the album’s stunning climax -- a near-perfect mix of cascading piano, falsetto croons, and ubiquitous handclapping which escalates into a triumphant, though bombastic, horn section. Verbs then slows down a bit -- “Waltz” is a methodical parade of blaring horns -- and eventually tapers off in the end with the appropriately titled “Sleep”. But by this point, Au has already left an indelible mark on the listener, completely altering whatever limitations they previously placed on pop music.